“Found a badly thrashed Nikon CoolPix L31 camera hanging on a tree branch while driving in the desert south and west of the Hungry Valley Rez. It has a slightly bent and mangled micro SD chip and I’m doing my best to salvage whatever might be on it. Fingers crossed. More to follow…” – from my Facebook timeline.
As I drove over the hill from the house, I turned left onto the muddy road leading into the high desert that skirts the Indian reservation. Having recently snowed, I was having a time trying to climb a steep hillside as my tires refused to gain traction and I kept sliding backwards.
That’s when I saw it – a small silver and black object hanging from a tree branch. It turned out to be a small pocket camera.
“That’s odd,” I thought as I got out of my truck to investigate.
Ever the cautious one, I examined it outwardly for possible booby-traps. Seeing that it wasn’t attached to any trip-wires and that the branch it was hanging on wasn’t set up to deliver a ‘spiked surprise,’ I removed it from the tree.
It became clear that it had been in the desert for sometime (2014, if photo’s recovered are any indication) and that it would take a miracle to get the piece of electronics to work again. That being said, I brought it home and packed it in a plastic container filled with white rice, hoping to dry it out (which, for me, has never worked.)
After 24-hours and a pair of new batteries, the camera did failed to come on, however I found a memory card. Looking the card over, it appeared folded in half at one time and there was a fracture in the back-half of the thing.
With no idea whether it could be salvaged, I tucked it inside the container of rice and let it stay there for about five-hours. I would have given it a full 24-hours to dry out, but curiosity got the best of me and I gave in.
A closer examination of the card showed that the metallic strips on the front end were in good shape and I was reasonably certain I could get it to work once inserted into my computer’s port. Within a minute of inserting it, I found the card (which eventually broke in two) to be filled with photographs and videos, that I’ve transferred to my computer’s memory for the time being.
But now for the twist – while the majority of the pictures recovered are of a baby girl, her older sister, mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma’s and grandpa’s, some of the images are of sites in and around Crescent City, California, 20-miles from where I grew up. Simply put…mind blown.
Time now to find the people in the pictures.